Award-Winning Finalist in the American Book Fest's Fiction: African-American category of the 2020 Best Book Awards!
From Darkness to Night: Book One - Family Secrets
Six years of running isn’t long enough to help Reneata Morris escape the guilt and shame of her past. Leaving behind in Alabama her fiancé and first true love, Ty, who is willing to sacrifice everything to make her happy; Tess, her rambunctious little sister; and Gramps and JoAnn, her protective grandfather and estranged mother, who she later learns hides a horrid family secret. Reneata fights to overcome the generational curse of poverty, addiction, and rape, whose influences affect how she sees herself and the world. Now, struggling to heal after the murder of Ervin, her older brother, an art prodigy who struggled with drug addiction, Reneata is reluctantly admitted to Bethany Skylar Mental Institution after a suicide attempt. But her time at the hospital is a blessing in disguise. While there, she befriends, Dr. Bobby Brown, a young, attractive psychiatrist who goes out of his way to help Reneata face her fears. But unbeknownst to her, Dr. Brown knows something about the days leading up to her brother’s murder that he, Gramps, and JoAnn all decide not to disclose to Reneata in fear that it would setback her recovery.
Second-Place Winner in the 2014 Author's Zone General Fiction Best Book Category
The Heart of a Man
Handsome, smart, and in control of his life is how those who know him would describe 42-year-old Atlanta businessman, Conrad Bydon. He is CEO of a successful commercial real estate conglomerate, husband to the infamous Gennifer Davenport-Bydon, an Atlanta socialite, and father to Marvin, a rambunctious 16-year-old. But in the shadows of his life, he is plagued by nightmares of his deceased mother and the horrid death of his friend, Tommie. His childhood memories of the rough, poverty-stricken South Atlanta neighborhood he grew up in force him to face the harsh realities of what he sacrificed to obtain the wealth and notoriety he struggles to hold on to. Coupled with his decaying marriage and a barrage of trouble lurking just beneath the surface of his career, Conrad’s journey to self-discovery leads him towards an unpredictable path of adultery, financial ruin, and ultimately, suicide. But through the grace of God, Conrad’s life is spared, and he becomes a testament of God's love and commitment to those who follow Him.
The author introduces us to Reneata at the death of her brother and allows us to walk with her as she recovers in the hospital and subsequently moves to start over in a new city. As she begins her new life and becomes involved with a man who seems to be able to give her everything that she has never had, she continues to deny herself permission to recognize and deal with her past.
Michelle Jackson allows the reader to walk the journey of self-realization with Reneata as she finally faces the root and causes of her shame and guilt. As Renata wrestles with the revelations she is receiving, the reader has the opportunity to contemplate the social and emotional consequences of difficult topics such as rape, incest, and multi-generational poverty and how they can break down families in a way that feels both painful and authentic.
Lara Ferguson of Girly Book Club
The Heart of a Man by Michelle D. Jackson is a riveting account of a journey to self-actualization for the book's protagonist, Conrad Bydon, and to some extent for us all. The reader will question the choices made by Conrad in his attempt to find a place of equanimity before God with family, career, and community? Will Conrad find his raison d'etre? How many people, actually, do arrive at their own mountain top experience?
The deep-seated philosophical struggles and insecurities of class, gender, and race complicate our understanding of self, relationships, and life in general throughout its many dimensions. The reader will find a sense of gratification in discovery that there are many possibilities, however, will your choices be in alignment or opposed to the Heart of God, family, and community? Will you be alone in a turbulent world, or will you, ultimately, find the place of acceptance that Michelle D. Jackson promises all readers in this thought-provoking, heart-wrenching whirlwind ride of corporate, family, and community intrigue. I thoroughly enjoyed, and highly recommend reading this book.
Pamela Sanders Ellis, Ph.D.